The feelings of sadness, shame and being criticised in our childhood by our caregivers aren’t forgotten. Our brain doesn’t forget. This is especially important when it is constant, over several years and with no other ‘comforting, safe adult to turn to’. These strong emotions of being told you are ‘stupid, useless, pathetic, a burden, dumb, slow, a waste of space etc’ catch up with you into adulthood. Every time you are in a situation where there is a similar tone of voice and a similar type of criticism (but usually of the much less harmful kind), you are instantly triggered into what is called an ’emotional flashback’. You once again feel that deep sadness, rejection and shame you used to feel as a defenceless child. People might think you are hypersensitive because you are over-reacting so much to something that wasn’t actually that big of a deal. To you however, this incident took you back to the original trauma pain and you are feeling the same emotions in just as an intense way. This is called post traumatic stress and for children abused, it is usually called complex post traumatic stress. The reason it is complex, is because the trauma & abuse were ongoing for a very long time during childhood and even into early adulthood. The brain is affected long-term and almost freezes in this hyper-aroused state of stress.
On the bright side however, adults who have survived abuse in childhood are very resilient individuals. They learned ways to cope with the sometimes awful circumstances of their abuse by either disassociating or becoming co-dependent. Therapy can help them heal, so there is always hope.
I admire every single one of these adults and their inner resilience.